The authors demonstrate that partitioning an aggregate quantity of a resource (e.g., food, money) into smaller units reduces the consumed quantity or the rate of consumption of that resource. Partitions draw attention to the consumption decision by introducing a small transaction cost; that is, they provide more decision-making opportunities so that prudent consumers can control consumption. Thus, people are better able to constrain consumption when resources associated with a desirable activity (which they are trying to control) are partitioned rather than when they are aggregated. This effect of partitioning is demonstrated for the consumption of chocolates (Study 1) and gambles (Study 2). In Study 3, process measures reveal that partitioning increases recall accuracy and decision times. Importantly, the effect of partitioning diminishes when consumers are not trying to regulate consumption (Studies 1 and 3). Finally, Study 4 explores how habituation may decrease the amount of attention that partitions draw to consumption. In this context, partitions control consumption to a greater extent when the nature of partitions changes frequently
Source: “The effects of partitions on controlling consumption” from the Journal of Marketing Research
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